Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nemani from Mali Island

from w
Tribewanted continues to thrive on Vorovoro Island with the help of many local Fijian people mainly from Mali Island. Here's an interview with Nemani as posted on Tribewanted website.
The Hammock Society Interview with Nemani
→ James Kerridge

Hahaha… fresh like bread?...

Yes indeed, rising up like yeast is one of our younger talents on the island, ladies and gentlemen I bring to you Mr. 6-Pack!

Eeeeeeeeeee! Bula sia everyone.

Name and rank?

My name is Nemani and I work here in the kitchen on Vorovoro.

I thought your name was Lemony, for ages I was calling you Lemony and telling tribe members that was your name… why didn’t you tell me I was saying it wrong?

No no no, how can I correct you? Oh my God! You know, in Fijian culture, in the old way, we don’t tell someone if they make a mistake like that, they have to learn themselves.

Beautiful and frustrating in equal amounts. You say you work in the kitchen but that’s a little misleading, you do much, much, much, more.


It’s true, stop being shy and tell tribe some more…

OK, I spend some of my time doing shopping for the tribe. We go to town on Wednesday and Saturday. I go to Labasa market, I know how to speak in Hindi and Fijian and English too. The market sellers see the white people and try to charge more money so they can keep more money… they sell for $6 but see you and sell for $8.

A whopping 33% increase.

So… I see that… and I can stop that because I speak in all the languages. Help save money for the project because food in Fiji is getting very expensive, all prices going up.

The market gets really hectic on Saturday, does this make your job more difficult?

No, I like the market and the people. On Saturday you can find the big fish, see strange shapes moving around in containers… very funny place to be. People always making joke and laughing, doesn’t matter that its busy.

How many plastic bags do you return with?

You try to trick me Jim? You know I don’t need any plastic bag in the island, I use the eco-bag. If you buy some milk and butter from the supermarket they given you one bag for the butter, one for the milk and then put into another plastic bag… oh my God! I don’t need that, too much rubbish already in Fiji.

Why do people throw rubbish everywhere spoiling the beautiful land?

They don’t think about what they are doing, when you attend Class 4 they teach you about the plastic, it takes 1,000 years to rust away… quite along time to keep plastic in the water. And what about the fish and everything? They eat the plastic and die, very bad. I think the people must be stupid or something. Or they must be too tired to pick it up and put it in the rubbish bin.

Sometimes, when I go to town on the boat and its low tide you can count all the plastic bags stuck in the mangroves. The closer you get to town, the more bags there are… it makes me sad. I think maybe they’ve heard the story of an island made from plastic rubbish and so they want to make one too!

A plastic island! Oh my God!

And back on Vorovoro, you’ve also been leading some cultural classes haven’t you?

I’m doing my own coconut class in the island, show you how to climb the coconut tree, its not a very hard job.

How high can you climb?

I can climb maybe thirty/forty feet. How high can you climb Mr. President?...

One hundred feet, easy peasy.

Hahahahahaha… after we climb we husk the coconut, grate the coconut, we can eat the coconut, drink the coconut.

Just be careful not to get hit by a coconut!


Is it true that there are crabs in Fiji that climb coconut trees?

Yeah, its true. Sometimes the octopus will climb the tree too.

No way!

Yeah, its true hahahahaha…

You’re also the Manager of the Hammock Society.

I’m very proud for that.

But I’m not sure you’re the right brand image, look at you… you’re ripped! Where’s the relaxed wobble? Its pure muscle…

This muscle is not from exercise on the beach, this is from climbing the coconut tree and pounding the kava. I am the Hammock Society Manager.

You must have a secret gym somewhere?

Before I had my secret gym and now I don’t have any.

Hmmmmmm… very, very suspicious…

I don’t want to get caught exercising and make the Hammock Society name go down. I’m not doing any training anymore, only climbing coconut tree and pounding kava.

What were you training for?

I train for the rugby. I just play two times this year, I miss all the technique because I work here and there is a lot of reserves in my team. I hide my rugby boots so no one takes them, my brother took them once and I couldn’t play, so now I hide them all the time.

Is this lobster tattoo on your chest part of the rugby club?

This is not a lobster, it’s a scorpion Jim!

Oh how silly of me, my mistake…

I got this one year ago when I was 18. You know the scorpion it got the poison, is very small but it can bite people so its just like me… I’m not a very big man but I’m dangerous.

Hahahahaha… what would you like to be when you’re older?

I want to be a rugby player. I want to play 15s. In Labasa, the ground is very hard, you get hurt every time, some part of the ground is like gravel.

How do you become a professional rugby player?

You play in your local club then trial for Mucuata province, after that go play in Suva with Mucuata, Latouka, Nadi… against each other… so they pick from there who is the best and go to Fiji.

Would they look at schools?

Sometime they do that, get a scholarship for overseas to play rugby. But I finish school when I think I was 16 and then I harvest the sugarcane. Its very far away from home, maybe two miles by foot, hold your machete with you, your bag, your foods and walk. Leave at four, reach there five thirty… start to cut sugarcane, 11 o’clock back home. Do this for six months.

That’s a pretty short working day if you forget about the travel. Fijians have a reputation for enjoying life rather than work, do you think this is true?

The business and Fijian life can’t go together because Fiji… Fiji time… stay in Fiji use Fiji time. When you work in town you have to rush every time. You can see this in Labasa town… some people just roaming around, stop in the corner and laugh and joking but working people move differently.

You clearly love your job, but what does a young Fijian lad get up to on a Saturday night?

I just spend time with my family because all other times I am with the tribe.

Well, you’ve become one of the most popular members of Team Fiji, the tribe adore you… don’t get a big head.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee… I enjoy meeting every people from every other country. Its very happy for us gang to stay here and know each other, its very nice. I learn a lot of new music… I learn to play “Say Tonight” (Eagle Eye Cherry) and I remember my friend Matt teach me how to play “Look How Far We’ve Come” by Matchbox Twenty. In Labasa we just have Rihanna, Chris Brown, ACon, but tribe members come with ipods… oh my God… 28,000 songs inside the ipod… keep on listening, keep on listening… lots of reggae.

Do you have ipods in Labasa?

We just have the 4GB ipod, not very big… costs $165.

I think they’re fake as well.

Yeah maybe. I have two.

Two fake ones, sounds like a boob job.

What job?...

Never mind… any last message for the readers out there?

I am still single!

How can we end it there! Would you marry a European girl?

Yeah… hahahahaha…

What would your family say? Do they want you to marry a Fijian?

If they mind, I don’t mind hahahahaha eeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Live in Fiji, be happy together.

Happily ever after. Nemani, my Manger of the Hammock Society, it’s a pleasure to work and joke around with you all week long but for goodness sakes, don’t let me catch you exercising.

Don’t worry Jim, chill out, don’t work out.

Go Hammocks!

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